Saturday, February 6, 2010

The Value of a Training Buddy

My friend Linda hates to run. Linda and I train together. She told me this during one of our training sessions. I tolerate running, but can't say I love it either. I can manage one or two miles of interval running (preferring only one mile), but have never run long distances or entered any races. We train with another friend, Tim, who is a veteran runner. A while ago I decided that to continue to improve in physical fitness and to meet weight loss and management goals that people should continually challenge themselves. You have to do what you hate. So I made Linda run. She complained, but she did it. I wanted to quit too, but I did it also. We kept each other going. Tim kept challenging us and encouraged us to enter a 5K. We set the goal to run in the Jingle Bell Run in early December. We trained for a couple of months and we did it! It was a lot of fun! Our finishing times were not that great, but that wasn't our goal. While out shopping for new running shoes a while back, Linda expressed an interest in completing a 10K. OK, we can do that! We told Tim. Tim runs in a race almost every weekend during running season. Again Tim challenged us. How about running the Boilermaker 15K in Utica, NY in July? A 15K is a little more than we wanted to do, but I thought that we could do it (Linda was pulled along in this decision). We have plenty of time to train. Linda tolerates running now and is going out on her own. I think she even misses it when she can't get out for a run.

That's where Linda and I are right now. We're trying to get as much mileage under our feet as possible this winter. We spend two days training inside on the treadmill and as many days outside as we can considering the Rochester winters. Running long distances on the treadmill is agony. We'll run two miles and practice speed intervals on the treadmill. Linda hates this and doesn't see the point. Her 15 year old son tells her to stop complaining and to just do it. And she does. My goal is for us to complete the Boilermaker in 90 minutes. Ten minute miles seem easy for shorter distances, but we're running 9.3 miles. This is uncharted waters for us. Linda and I are now running five miles in an hour. This is beginning to seem easier to both of us.

Today, I met Linda in the bitter cold to go running. Sidewalks were not cleared and we had to run in the busy streets from time to time. We weren't sure how far we wanted to go today, but we both felt good during the run, despite not quite getting warm. We ran five miles, including a nice hill at the end of the run. Linda kept a good pace and we were both thrilled to be honked at by a gentleman driving by at the end of our run. Linda's goal now is to run six miles in an hour. That's a pretty good goal for someone who doesn't like running. I think Linda does like running now, she just doesn't love it! Hmmm...that sounds like another challenge.

Research shows us that when we engage in diet and exercise goals with other people our chances of success are greater. It's also important to set goals. Starting with small goals makes the challenge seem less difficult. But it's important to set new goals along the way, continually challenging ourselves. Humans are social and the camaraderie and encouragement that we receive from others can be tremendous. Conversely, others who do not share our goals can tear us down. Seek out those who will support you in your goals. I feel lucky to have Linda and Tim and the other friends who will be running and training with us! I'm really looking forward to putting many miles under my feet with good friends next to me!

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